“Where are you from?” is a question you get asked almost every day in the first weeks of college. I never thought that when answering this question, I would feel nervous, embarrassed, or even judged. I’ve never been ashamed of where I’m from, but I recently have realized that saying “I am from Long Island” has an incredibly negative connotation.
When I tell people that I am from Long Island, I quickly feel as if I have to redeem myself with “but I’m not a “Long Island girl!”.” I have noticed that in more than one occasion that when I tell someone I’m from Long Island, they suddenly lose interest. Whether they look at their phone, or give me a look of “really, another long island girl” you can tell how unhappy they are to be talking to me. So why is this? Why is it that coming from a small town 30 minutes away from New York City can make people not want to be friends with me?
When people think of the typical “Long Island girl” they have an image in their mind of a stuck up, obnoxious girl, who thinks they are better than anyone else they may encounter. I’d like to think that if you get to know me, you know this isn’t true about me. It has been hard for me to make friends with people who think like this. They think that because I am from a certain place, I act a certain way, and from the moment I meet them, my goal is to prove them wrong.
Who set this stereotype for us Long Island girls, and why has it stuck? I’ve had too many conversations where I have been talking to someone and tell them where I’m from and heard them say to me, “you so don’t seem like you’re from there.” I have been responding to this with “thank you!” but I’m not sure this is the right rebuttal. Why should I thank someone for thinking I’m from a different place? I have been trying to figure out why so many people truly think Long Island is a terrible place. Sure, there are obnoxious, and annoying people everywhere, but why do people think it is so much worse in Long Island? Then I cracked it. There is a certain stigma that comes along with being from Long Island that some people carry. For some reason, many people from Long Island come to their new lives in college with a sense of entitlement, that they are truly better than anyone they come across. For these people, I get it. They should be embarrassed to admit that the place that they’re from gave them this incredibly false sense of popularity and privilege. But this stigma certainly doesn’t apply to all of us. Since being at school I have made it my mission to show people who I am, and how my personality is not based off of where I came from. From now on, when people ask where I am from, I won’t apologize, rather show them that I am the girl from Long Island, the one that breaks the stereotype.